"Tomorrow is more interesting than today, and it has nothing
to do with yesterday. I'm interested in tomorrow."
Hidden for much of the time at the back of the Seaview, Sparks
was the Seaview's mystery man. Little is known about Sparks. What
was his background? Arch Whiting has similarly been a mystery man,
away from the glare of Hollywood for some time, and only now rediscovering
the adventures of the Seaview.
Born in Larchmont, NY, Arch was educated at the Dwight Prep school
in New York City and Florida Southern College. Joining CBS as a
mail clerk, Arch quickly worked his way up to become assistant to
the producer of THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, Marlo Lewis. At the young
age of eighteen, Arch found himself being invited to dinner with
Ed Sullivan and his wife Sylvia. They took him to Schraft's (a very
famous NY restaurant) and then to a movie 'Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison'
starring Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr. Arch remembers being awed
to be eating with Ed Sullivan!
Arch eventually quit THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW moving to Florida for
college and then travelling, working odd jobs before returning to
New York where he was encouraged to become an actor. He studied
with Sanford Meisner at the Neighbourhood Playhouse, and appeared
in STUDIO ONE, ARMSTRONG THEATRE and various serial dramas. Around
this time Arch was rooming with actor Warren Oates in New York.
Oates got a role on STONEY BURKE, and sent his friend Arch a postcard
telling him that he ought to come out to LA. There were parts to
be had by all. Arch's wife worked with and knew June Havoc. Havoc
told Arch and his wife that they were welcome to stay in her beach
house in Malibu. Meantime, Arch did a famous commercial for Dentyne
Chewing Gum. He spent 3 days filming at Hofstra College in NY. They
were looking for a guy with great teeth, so Arch got the job. The
commercial was extremely popular and acted as a springboard to his
In 1959, Arch and his wife made the move out to California, and
Arch soon got roles in shows like STONEY BURKE and THE BARBARA STANWYCK
SHOW. A while later, Arch was signed up by Twentieth Century Fox.
One day, Clifford Gould, a casting director at Twentieth Century
Fox, said, "C'mon, Arch. There's someone I want you to meet.
He's producing a new show about a submarine." Off they went
across the Fox Lot. Arch didn't know who he was going to meet, and
had never heard of Irwin Allen. They went up to an office and Gould
introduced the two men. Gould told Allen that Arch would be perfect
for the series. Mr. Allen to Mr. Whiting: "Sit down."
After a few seconds: "Stand up." At this point Arch was
thinking to himself, "What the hell is this?" But he stood
up. However, not the type to care a wit about what people think
of him, and also with the boldness of youth, Arch retorted in a
sarcastic tone, "So, do I look any different?" Allen was
not amused, and the two men left. Arch was sure he'd blown any chance
of getting the series, but sure enough, the next day, Allen told
Gould he wanted Whiting for the part of Sparks ... and the rest
During Voyage's run, Arch had to work other jobs to make ends meet.
In addition to acting on other shows, Arch worked in a seedy Hollywood
bar on Santa Monica Blvd., a nightclub called the Rain Check Room.
Zell Davis and Phil Pearl owned and ran the place. For some reason,
a lot of New York actors frequented the Rain Check Room, people
like Ben Gazarra, Shelly Winters, and Rod Steiger. They all knew
Arch, knew he was an actor, and that's how he got a lot of jobs.
Directors would pop in and ask if he was busy the next day. If he
was not on call for VOYAGE, he'd go over and appear on shows such
as Ben Gazarra's "Run For Your Life". He worked at the
Rain Check Room for three years.
When VOYAGE ended, Arch moved into cinematography, working on films
such as COUNT YORGA and ANGELS DIE HARD. His work took him to Europe
and he returned to the US when he started to focus again on his
acting career. He took on a variety of roles, predominantly for
Quinn Martin Productions. Just about to leave for Europe again in
1974, Arch was approached to appear in RUN, JOE, RUN as Sergeant
Cory. The show ran for 26 episodes.
In 1976, Arch went out and bought a VW camper, rented out the house
and started driving through Canada, the US and North Mexico. He
lived in the truck until 1980, constantly moving. One summer he
picked up his two sons and travelled some 9000 miles with them.
He eventually sold the camper at a profit, and used the money to
travel to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali,
Sri Lanka, taking the train to Calcutta, eventually ending up in
Katmandu. There he met up with a producer friend from Twentieth
Century Fox, Marvin Schwartz. Marvin took him to the town of Katmandu
for dinner where Arch became very ill from drinking the water (even
though it had been boiled). Sick for some two weeks, he had had
enough by then and decided it was time to move on...from New Delhi
to Rome, then onto Nice, Germany, back to LA for a short while,
Switzerland (where he worked in a saw mill), France, and eventually
back to LA.
In 1986, Arch sold his home in LA and moved east where he bought
an old house on five acres of land, which he worked hard to
landscape. After much time away from the spotlight, Arch was amazed, amused and heartened when he learned that he still had a following. So much so, that he drove across the US to join the Irwin Allen News Network and his former colleagues at the Return to Lost in Space convention in LA in 1998. However, he was now settled in the east and returned there to live until he passed away in May 2007. Arch will be sorely missed and will continue to be fondly remembered as the young, but independent Sparks.